Faced with a potential resurgence of a once oppressed community, the regime is reacting in a classical sectarian manner, painting his opponents as Sunni extremists. By placing the debate in the context of a Sunni-Alawite opposition, the regime is able to stoke the fears needed to circle the wagons. But it needs to build a sectarian alliance would have Shiites, Christians, and Druze aligned together. However, while this bill of goods found willing buyers among many Lebanese, no sale; there is little unanimity.
Yes, the Assad strategy finds willing allies among Shiite parties, whose stranglehold over their community is reinforced by a combination of coercion, cooption, or a sense of collective grief… However, since Lebanon is a collection of minorities, the “Qajar’s method” needs some adjustments, and only an alliance of sectarian groups can work.
However, the strategy has united the Druze, who have learned to have a “long view” of history. However, it has not united them against Bashar; for all the prodding, Joumblat is not budging (yet). Not only is his hold over the Druze is strengthening, but it is expanding into
Worse, this sectarian strategy has divided Christians. For all the Christians gather around Aoun (and the stress he’s under may be starting to show), they remain a shrinking minority, only held together by their revulsion of Geagea, or dislike of Gemayel. Those same aversions ensure that his Christian opponents are not much reinforced by his weakness.
So the regime is casting around for support in the community, but can only find the same old tools. The amateurish brutality of Slimy-the-Younger can not hide this bankruptcy, they highlight it. The Village idiot's attacks against the Patriarch are typical of past Syrian tactics; when they had let the kid loose on Rafik Hariri. Slimy would copiously insult him during the meetings of the council of ministers, and Hariri then had little choice but to ask them to hold the leash. This is when they would use a bigger pitbull such as Hobeika to rein him in, and Hariri would owe them a favour… But this time the conditions are different.
Their tactics are not working too well on the Christians; all they have to show for it is a few songs and dances. So the regime tried to compensate its weak “cultural” pull, and exert some sort of “push” on the glacier tightening around it. In this, the old levers of Lebanese “opposition” can still be useful. Key to this tactic is their attempt to de-legitimize the Lebanese Government.
First, they push for a presence of the “opposition” alongside the government at Arab summits, but Qandil 2.0 can only waste more oxygen. They could hardly have found a worse spokesperson.
More credibly, they use Mailbox-Berri, to send the message that “Without Syria and Saudi Arabia, there will be no resolution to the Lebanese crisis”… But the mailbox is overused; yes, the Saudis are preparing themselves for a more active role, but they are slowly moving towards a collision course with the Syrian regime. In the games of cloak and dagger, brutality works, but money talks louder.
Then, they send ShaterHassan to push for (another) trade with
The Syrians will not give up so easily, and their little push-pull act is only the beginning. Do not expect the regime to pause; now that they have dug themselves in hole, they will keep on digging. The ongoing deconstruction of (an already poorly constructed)
During that wasted time, whatever remains of
With the prospect of a Suleiman presidency all but "over", the pressure is back again on Syria, and the field is wide open again. So expect the Syrians to act "true to form", and to bring back the bombs... And, as the Regime misreads and miscalculates, it will all backfire again... So there is hope for those lucky enough to have made it. If they do not emigrate first, that is...